John Bunyan And His Relevance For Today -- By: Pieter DeVries

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 02:1 (Jan 2010)
Article: John Bunyan And His Relevance For Today
Author: Pieter DeVries


John Bunyan And His Relevance For Today

Pieter DeVries

John Bunyan is one of the most important persons in the history of the church. His work, The Pilgrim’s Progress, is read all over the world in all circles: Reformed, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and so on.

Who was John Bunyan? In Dutch, we have a phrase: “He curses like a tinker.” That goes back to John Bunyan who, after he left school, became a tinker just as his father. As a young man, Bunyan was known for his cursing and swearing. How he transformed from that to becoming the author of the most widely read Christian book after the Bible is revealed in the title of his autobiography: Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. John Bunyan was a sinner saved by grace. In his life, he struggled severely with the heart-burning question: How can I have peace with God? By God’s grace, he found the answer. He became a guide to Christ for others. He still speaks hundreds of years later through his many writings, especially The Pilgrim’s Progress.

John Bunyan was in more than one respect a child of his time; he was a seventeenth-century Englishman. But what he wrote crosses the bounds of the century in which he lived. He brought a message that is still relevant today. The most important question which we can ever ask is: How can I find peace with God? There is only one answer, the answer Bunyan found, by the grace of God: we are right in the sight of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the sinner who puts his trust in Christ as his Savior. Still today, the law must be preached so that sinners begin to realize that God is angry with them every day. The gospel must be proclaimed in all its freeness and fullness so that wounded consciences might be healed.

The Spirit of God teaches sinners the same lessons in every age. Bunyan experienced that in a very remarkable way during a time

of deep concern about his soul. While he was going through such a spiritually dark valley, he laid hands on an old volume of Luther’s commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians. It amazed him that a man who had lived about a century before him could so exactly share his burden and have a similar experience. He came to appreciate Luther greatly, as he wrote in Grace Abounding:

I do prefer this book of Martin Luther upon the Galatians, excepting the Holy Bible, before all the books that ever I have seen, as most fit for a wounded conscience.... I found my condition in his experience so largely and profoundly handled as if his book had been written of my heart. This made me marvel; for thus thought I, this man could not know anything o...

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